Not Just E:ne for Sake. Raw Food Too?

E:Ne Raw Food and Sake Bar
Address: 737 Pandora Ave, Victoria, BC
Hours: 3PM–12AM
Phone: (778) 433-0363

ES: When it comes to alcoholic beverages, I tend to appreciate sake more than beer. When I heard about this operation opening up in Victoria, BC, my taste buds were titillated. The first thing on my mind was if they carried any of those fruity brews that I see listed in menus whenever I’m in Vancouver dining establishments than anywhere else. Long story short, not all operations are interested in carrying these variations.

As I learned at a sake tasting event a week later, master brewers consider the only good sake is untainted sake. The authentic blends do not include additives. I’m open for experimentation though, including raw food.

As for Wagyu than Kobe beef, they’re technically the same but from different regions. I haven’t had these prime slices for a long time, and I’m glad this sister operation to Nubo Tapa is here. Donald Kennedy was intrigued when I mentioned often seeing lineups for this place and we got together to see what this place was all about. From time to time, though, we saw a little butane device being pulled out and I wondered what the fire regulations were. I patted my head just in case it started smoking.

DK: What was the deal with the torch? Every couple minutes it blasted at random. Blasted into mid-air.

Blasted in the general direction of the bar shelf. Blasted pretty much everywhere but overtop a cocktail, brûlée or anything else that needed finishing. Was the bartender chasing off flies? Just playing? Maintaining? Do I know nothing at all about torch use and maintenance? The mystery of the E:Ne torch lingers like a hungry raccoon round the edge of a campsite.

And here’s another riddle, one I’m much more interested in solving: where can I get a smoked duck hotdog around here? Or maybe a Po Boy? E:Ne’s Peking Duck is good, but I can’t shake the feeling a better delivery method is possible.

ES: Between the various tapas we had, I was hard-pressed to wonder which was more delectable. Their daily specials were of interest, and the maki rolls were a step above other establishments, mostly in being more original in their flavour profiles. There’s only so much cream cheese I can stand. Their beef, say I say I was wagyu my tongue like a hungry dog? It’s been years since I last tasted cow massaged by virgin hands.

There’s a myth concerning cows sipping beer too. By then, the sake was having an effect on me. When drunk, I do not behave like a certain individual from my past seems to think I am. His words and mindset must be limited. At least my behavior opens up some to have fun!

DK: I believe it’s the cows that are virgins, not the ranchers that massage them. Let’s not start a conspiracy theory that strict abstinence enforcement policies within the Japanese beef industry are the real reason birth rates are falling across Japan. I’m sure Japanese ranchers have healthy sex lives, probably healthier than most. Maybe I should become a Japanese rancher…

ES: Or Maybe Don should become a master sake brewer. I feel this establishment is more for the drink than the food. There were lots of varieties to taste from. Some were imported straight from Japan, and a few from local distilleries. YK3 is based out of Richmond, BC and I’m sure there are at least two other ones. When ordering, like wine, you have to know which is best to go well with your dish.

Even though we ordered light meals, we were still hungry and went omakase. We had tempura, more tacos, pressed sushi, dumplings and nigiri. The tuna tasted better than the salmon, and duck meat tacos. Some were solid hits. We were playing tic-tac-toe with the nine items offered to us to taste test. They were playing it safe with half the board.

Raw food of the safer variety this place does have, but it’s not like their neighbouring operation (Nubo) which has monkfish liver on their menu. I’d love it should the two have both menus available, and patrons can choose from either. I’m sure the kitchen is a shared space.

3½ Blokes out of 5

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Come to Shima for the View, for Sushi by the Sea

Shima Sushi
1218 Wharf St,
Victoria, BC
Phone: (250) 590-7370

When the waitresses at Shima admit Victoria, BC has way too many Japanese restaurants, I have to wonder when some will close up shop out of frustration to get a regular clientele or which operation stands out as the best? I’m sure there’s a list out there which locals has voted on as the best. I can’t say I completely agree either.

This operation has been around since 2010. While I have walked by on many an occasion, the desire to try this place out was limited. The menus on display showed prices were above average and they did not offer anything unique when compared to other operations.

For some reason, James Shaw tagged along. As we both settled in a cozy corner, we both eyed the same item on the menu: a clam miso soup. I had to go for my traditional staples, a sunomono salad (perhaps one of the best I’ve had since the chef did not skimp on the octopus) and a deluxe platter of nigiri. To sum up my buddy’s thoughts on the said soup: you get your money’s worth ($6). Not only are the servers very generous in the serving of this mollusk, but also the aroma had feeling I ordered the wrong starter.

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Revisiting Futaba & A Mini-Review from James Shaw

1420 Quadra St #101
Victoria, BC
Phone: (250) 381-6141

I can’t say Futaba is a favourite restaurant of mine. They did a bit of change in the menu offerings over the years and the overall result is not convincing me by much. The quality is not quite there anymore as another mutual friend pointed out (see below image) and while the meal I had was certainly tastier on the night I visited here with James Shaw, the improvements were minuscule.

These days, this guy still has an opinion about the places we dine together and he always has to express (to me) what he thinks about the place. I tell him to speak to someone else or resume being a bloke. He stupidly looks at me and I always roll my eyes. I really have no clue why I still hang out with him since he can’t separate from when we are hanging out together as pals to when to shut up if we happen to hit an eatery. He knows I can use his words to put into the next food review. He can’t stop me. In that regard, he’s still continuing to be part of this food-zine (or should I say scene?)

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What’s Next after Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society’s 18th Annual Autumn Fair?

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The Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society (VNCS) is active year-round, and in October, their annual fair from last weekend brings the community together — and the curious to learn about the elements of what makes traditional Japan cool. Now in its 18th year, their success lies in how they enrich and entertain the public who do not know much about the Land of the Rising Sun.

For spoiled folks like me who desire more of an academic edge, I’m craving the experience from the University of Victoria’s Pacific and Asian Studies CAPI Conference on Japanese Popular Culture. Two events were held on campus back in the late 90’s and they set the bar. Plus, I visited Japan and experienced the life on the streets that some festivals from afar have no plans to replicate. To sample the unique food from stalls at either a theme park like Fuji-Q Highland Park or at a seasonal event requires travelling back there.

VNCS’ version is quaint. It is worth going to at least once. I’ve been to this event years ago and saw no reason to come back in any regular basis. After James Shaw told me about 2016’s event perhaps offering Ikayaki (squid on a stick), I took a chance at returning. Was he wrong about what he heard? Most likely. This mouth-watering reason was the only reason I trekked out to the Municipality of Esquimalt.

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Home is Where the ❤ is at Fūdo Japanese Restaurant

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Broadmead Village Shopping Centre

Unit 425 – 777 Royal Oak Drive
Phone: (778) 265-3328

Located outside of downtown, Fūdo Japanese Restaurant is where Shingo Sana, the former head sushi chef from Omakase, continues his passion for creating fantastic Japanese dishes. The ambience at this bistro is modern than traditional, and the time spent within is quite pleasant. The service was great. I got a full decanter of tea to keep me very satisfied. The prices here are a little bit more than those in town, but for the tastes I’ve found, it’s worth every extra penny — especially with the fusion roll I tried.

I do not visit this part of the suburbs much, mostly because the mall does not offer the type of shopping I’m usually after (nerd type merchandise), but if sushi connoisseurs love what this culinary master can do, making the trip to the edge of town is worth it. Timing and knowing when he has speciality rolls (like the Bananacado or Lemon Drop which the March/April issue of EAT magazine mentioned) on the menu requires keeping an eye on their Facebook page (or going omakase here) if anyone is yearning for a specific taste.

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Driving Far? There’s No Need to Park’s Kitchen

img_20160906_134103283Park’s Kitchen
606 Trounce Alley
Victoria, BC
(778) 265-2227

ES: I wish the Izakaya in Trounce Alley stayed longer. Actually known as So-Ya, they had a classy environment to fashion some trendy and nouveau Japanese style food. People can read our review here and I truly miss them. Park’s Kitchen replaces this operation. They had a soft opening and not many people noticed.

I have to wonder if the servers even have an eye for what’s good here. When James and I had our empty glasses of water just sitting on the table, no one bothered to glance to see if we needed a refill. I saw where the decanters were and had to help myself.

JS: Although the shell of So-Ya remains, the spirit within had long since passed on. What has replaced it is not very impressive. I was willing to be pleased but Park’s rarely shined when it came to either customer service, the kitchen staff or their lunch specials.

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But I’m going to give a bad sounding critique and the reason is the not-so-good outweighed what was best about this place. But to start, their sunomono salad was very creative if not refreshing.

The lettuce threw me off but the carrots were most welcome. The vinaigrette was sweet and cool. I have to say I finally found a sunomono that may have beaten Sushi Plus. But perhaps to put something else to replace the lettuce will improve on this creation.

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